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MEDICARE NEWS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CMS Office of Media Affairs
July 21, 2006

Medicare Testing New Online Tools to Help Beneficiaries Better Manage Own Health Care

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced a new project that seeks to test the feasibility of integrating Medicare claims history information with other Internet-based tools that could ultimately allow people with Medicare to track their health care services and monitor their health care.

"By using emerging technologies and tools, people with Medicare will be better able to manage their health care, resulting in improved quality in the care they receive and ensuring that care is provided more efficiently," said CMS Administrator Mark B. McClellan, M.D., Ph.D. "The steps we are taking today will test whether Medicare's current data will help to populate useful personal health records for Medicare beneficiaries."

CMS recently awarded two contracts to test the transfer of Medicare claims data into Personal Health Records (PHRs). The six-month contracts were awarded to ViPS and Capstone Government Solutions, and the total cost of the project is $500,000. The goals of the project are to:

Test the feasibility of using Medicare claims data in personal health records,
Assess how to best communicate data from existing CMS systems to PHR tools,
Evaluate the information included in existing PHRs, along with how they would best help Medicare beneficiaries' care, and evaluate how existing PHRs address security and privacy issues.

Currently, Medicare beneficiaries are able to receive personalized information about their Medicare benefits and services at the My.Medicare.gov pages on www.medicare.gov. Although these are not true personal health records, users can save, update, and keep a record of their self-entered prescription drug and pharmacy information that can be retrieved at any time with a password date and confirmation number. This allows them to have a record of their current drug list with them at all times. Enhancements are being made to further improve usability.

The My.Medicare.gov internet portal is now available to beneficiaries nationwide and has over 140,000 registered users. Services currently available through the portal include access to personalized information about the user's Medicare claims, Preventive Services for which they are due, Medicare Enrollment (including Prescription Drug Plans), Medicare Secondary Payer, and Other Insurer information. Users can also access online forms, publications, and messages sent by CMS.

As My.Medicare.gov expands and provides greater functionality, and the use of PHRs continues to grow, beneficiaries will enjoy greater access to health information that will better equip them to manage their health care.

The PHR Feasibility Test is a component of a larger CMS PHR action plan which describes a number of ways that CMS can help promote the growth of PHRs and ensure that beneficiaries' have private and secure access to their own health care information. CMS' action plan supports the activities being undertaken by the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) and the American Health Information Community (AHIC).